This paper explores connections between J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1953 Essays and Studies publication The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm’s Son and representations of ofermod and aristocratic “chivalry” in The Lord of the Rings. Focusing on the motivations and leadership-related decisions of Denethor and Faramir in The Lord of the Rings, this paper argues that Faramir's behavior and motivations, despite Denethor’s implications to the contrary, cannot be described in terms of ofermod regardless of the risk that his choice to reject the Ring appears to pose to Gondor. By contrast, Denethor and his son Boromir represent the pride-motivated decision-making and rash heroics that Tolkien ties to ofermod and aristocratic “chivalry” in Homecoming. This becomes particularly apparent through close linguistic analysis of Denethor’s speeches to Faramir and Gandalf in The Return of the King. Ultimately, this paper argues that Denethor’s behavior leading up to and during the siege of Minas Tirith draws out a prominent danger of ofermod in Tolkien’s literature: the ability of the privileged leader to abandon hope on behalf of subordinates. By contrast, Tolkien’s protagonists represent the opposite impulse: they embrace hope on behalf of others, setting the stage for Tolkien’s eucatastrophic interventions.
"Ofermod and Aristocratic Chivalry in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings,"
Journal of Tolkien Research: Vol. 8
, Article 1.
Available at: https://scholar.valpo.edu/journaloftolkienresearch/vol8/iss1/1